Woman shocked to learn online boyfriend is ex-husband; he's charged with stalking

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A West St. Paul woman got a cruel surprise when a man she had been dating online for nearly a year turned out to be her ex-husband, the Pioneer Press reports.

The newspaper says prosecutors allege that Brian Matthew Cornelius, 36, of Sturgeon Lake, Minn., went to great lengths to create an online persona under a fake name with borrowed photos in order to carry out a virtual relationship with his former wife, according to charges filed this week in Dakota County. Now he is faces two counts of gross misdemeanor stalking.

The two were married 11 years, divorced in 2011 and have battled in court over custody issues related to their young children, the Pioneer Press reports.

As part of the ruse, Cornelius and his ex-wife traded email, texts, and other electronic communications, prosecutors say. She shared intimate details with Cornelius, including information about her struggles with her ex-husband. Prosecutors allege that Cornelius, posing as the online boyfriend, persuaded her not to pursue a protection order against him.

The woman started to figure out the deception when Cornelius began appearing at places where she told her online boyfriend she would be, the Pioneer Press reports. She says she feels "terrorized" and no longer feels safe.

According to a court order, Cornelius is not allowed to contact his ex-wife except to set up phone calls with their children.

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